Stormwater pond proposal raises questions among citizens, council members
by Josh Whitner
As the construction of Wesley Chapel’s town hall draws nearer, council members and residents have both raised questions regarding a recent stormwater pond proposal.
Aston Properties, the company that owns the land adjacent to the area where the town hall will be, presented a proposal to council members at the April 11 village council meeting. The proposal explains the need for a stormwater pond, suggests that the pond be shared between Aston and the town, presenting a breakdown of the roles the two would play in the construction and maintenance of the pond.
Vice President of Aston Karen Partee gave a PowerPoint presentation, outlining the proposal. Partee is also a non-voting member of the town hall committee, serving as a liaison between Aston and Wesley Chapel.
The proposal states that Aston would be responsible for designing and constructing a shared stormwater pond at the south end of the town’s property. The pond would accommodate a portion of the town’s stormwater as well as the stormwater from the nearby retail businesses on Aston’s property. The town would have the right to irrigate from the pond. In addition, the town would also assume responsibility of landscaping around the pond and supplying power for a fountain, if desired.
The town would cover 100 percent of the general maintenance costs for the area around the pond, while Aston would fund 100 percent of capital repairs needed for the pond once the remaining phases are built.
Partee explained that the town and Aston would have two options when selecting the type of pond: a wet pond or a dry pond. The wet pond would be a visible body of water (looking like a standard pond) and take up a little over an acre of the land, while the dry pond would flush the water underground (appearing as a dry piece of land) and cover about three-quarters of an acre. The costs of the pond would be relatively close, with the wet pond costing around $50,000 and the dry pond costing slightly more.
Aston donated approximately six acres of property to the village of Wesley Chapel to be used for the town hall. The stormwater pond would use up around one acre of that land and be located on the least topographically valuable area.
Some were not completely on board with this proposal. Council members and citizens were also concerned with the expense of forcing the water to that area, afraid that it would be unnecessary expense, and suggested a smaller pond on the north end. Others did not feel it was fair that the town would be responsible for all the maintenance around the pond, which Partee said would consist mainly of cutting the grass.
Residents also challenged Aston, pointing out that the majority of the runoff would come from the retail businesses on Aston’s side. Partee defended this, referencing the relationship that the town has maintained with Aston. “We’re a good partner,” she said, while addressing the council. “We don’t look at the business aspect of things, we look at the partnership, and we ask that you do the same.”
Town council members still had some questions about the proposal and whether there would be more viable options available. “Do we need a pond for just the six acres,” asked council member Kim Ormiston, “and if so, how big does it need to be? If this is the most cost-effective (proposal), I’m all for it, but we need to know what our needs are, and I haven’t heard that yet.”
Mayor Brad Horvath explained that as the council examines this proposal, it will work to consider a situation that would benefit parties. “It is us looking at being good partners with Aston as well,” he said.
Town hall committee chairman Bill Meyer said in a later interview that the council should determine the value of the proposal, but that it is an idea worth pursuing. “Personally, I feel it is something that needs to move forward,” he said. “The council needs to get the details on this, but it’s a good starting point.”
Meyer also pointed out that nothing is set in stone at this point. “We need to remember that this is not a contract; it is just a proposal.”
The town council plans to have engineers take a look at the proposed idea and determine its value and whether better options are available. “Hopefully, we can continue to move forward,” said Meyer.